Start Somewhere 

For years I carried my shame in secret, I desperately tried to keep my past hidden from everyone. I felt that all that I had been through was unique only to me. I was the only person who had been forced into a marriage with a mentally ill addict at the age of 15. I was the only one who had been repeatedly mosleted and then treated like I had deserved what had happened to me by the people who failed to protect me over and over again. 

I am the only person in the world who cringes whenever someone ask about my father, my family, where I am from. The people who think I am weirdo but can’t quite put there finger on exactly why they think this about me because they really don’t actually know anything about me. 

Where the heck was child protective services when I was growing up? 

Exactly how many times have I been victimized by our ” legal system”? 

The people who think I am stuck up snob because I don’t “join in and share”. Who is this ghost with no past and hidden secrets? 

Why did I not go to high school at all? Why did I bother getting my GED at the age of 28 and two college degrees at 36?

Why don’t I judge people like everyone else, why don’t I try as hard as everyone else to fit in and conform to social norms? 

Why do I have four kids with three different last names? Who/Where are the baby daddies? And Why on earth did my kind, quiet husband of 10 years take all this on? 


I will start with my first marriage; 

March 4th 1995 I turned 15, I had recently moved back to my mothers house with the promise of things would be better, she had changed, her husband had stopped drinking, ” I would be so proud!” I would be allowed to go to high school and have a normal teenager life. Not only did my mother not enroll me in school but she sent me to work with her husband. Her husband was a man who was 28 years her junior and a mentally ill addict. He drive for a auto transport company. I spent most of my time driving with him in his truck and then would help him find the cars from the auto auctions and load them onto the truck. I often worked from 6am until 11pm everyday and did not receive any compensation for it. 

I was knew to the area, didn’t go to school and didn’t have any friends. I was starved for attention and incredibly lonely. I was prime bait to be preyed upon. Down the street lived a 42 year old man, also a mentally ill addict. He would wait and watch for me to come by and talk to me. After a few weeks he became my only friend.I looked forward to the attention I would get from him and kept coming back for more. Before I knew it I was sneaking out of the house to go hang out with him. He knew I was sneaking around and lying. Soon he offered me drugs and alcohol, I refused the drugs but took the alcohol. It was a slippery slope after that into sexual actions. I went along with things that felt wrong and dirty because I didn’t want to lose my friend. 

My mom suspected what was going on and called the police, the police came and talked to me. They asked me what was going on and I refused to talk to them. I was conditioned by this time not to talk to the police and that all social workers were from the devil and if they knew what was going on in my life I would be taken from home and put into group homes where I would be even more horribly abused. So I kept quiet for the most part, I did tell the cop that I would really like to go to school and if he could do anything about that.  No government agency ever followed up with me afterwards. 

After the officer left my house, he arrested ” my friend”. My mom then proceed to lay a huge guilt trip on me saying that this was all my fault. I had trapped this guy and lured him to me. He was going to go to prison and never see his children again because of my actions. 

After the dust from the arrest & interrogation settled my mother and ” friend” came up with a plan; 

“Friend” would give my mother a certain amount of money and an ongoing portion of his business income ( he did tree trimming) in exchange my mother would would allow him to marry me thus avoiding criminal prosecution. 

The schematics; 

1. I lived in Califormia at this time, Califronia law would not allow us to be married until I was 16 rather I had my mothers consent or not 

2. My mom looked into Nevada, again I had to be 16 for a drive by Vegas wedding.

3. Mom discovered I could get married in Utah at the age of 15 with her consent and a judges approval, so in April of 1995my mother rented a car to drive myself, “friend” stepdad and 10 year old sister to Utah. We drive from California to Utah where I stood in a legal complex building in a dress from goodwill before a judge in a state to before,surrounded by strangers. The judge denied my mothers request to marry me to this 42 year old guy. The judge stated that she would not approve the married since I was not pregnant and she did not want me to be a ” child having children”. We returned to California unmarried but my mother was undeterred. 

4. The next venture was to Mississippi, my mother signed over power of attorney to ” friend” and gave him a copy of her drivers license. “Friend ” borrowed his mothers RV and took me across state lines to Mississippi.In preparation for the trip my mother instructed ” friend” to purchase a ring, lingerie and intimate lubercation So he presented me with a $10 gold ring from Wal-Mart, lingerie and lube from Big Lots. My mother had me try on her wedding dress that she had made for her wedding to her first husband at the age of 19. She was pregnant with my older brother and that is why she married the first time. Her first husband abandon her and my brother when he was around three.I remember my mother yelling at me to take the dress off that I didn’t deserve to wear anything nice or deserve any celebration for this mess I had gotten myself into. So I wore a black and white polka dot cotton dress a church lady had given me a year before.

“Friend” and I arrived at his mothers house in the San Deigo, we would stay the night there and leave in her RV in the morning for Mississippi. We walked into his mothers house, her response to meeting me for the first time was ” wow she is stunning, I could see why you would go to jail for that!” 

After he had visited with his mother and become drunk he led me into her guest room which would be our accomidations for the night. I don’t remember what I wore, but I do remember the feel of an old dusty velvet like blanket I laid on. I remember the smell of beer on his breath and the anguish and confusion I felt. He had a bottle of after sun aloe gel. He told me he would use it to make it hurt less. This was my first experience of intercourse. The cold gel on my most private areas, the feeling that I was a prize, an object and worth nothing to anyone but him and his current physical desires. He quickly did his thing and told me I probably bled some and should go to the bathroom and clean up. I will never forget the dark spot on that old dusty velvet blanket and the deep aching emotional and physical pain I felt. I stood alone in the shower trying to shove all the pain down into the dark hole where I always pushed the pain. There was no time for wallowing in self pity and loneliness I had to go marry this man so his life would not be ruined. When I crawled back into bed ” friend” was passed out in drunken contentment”. I lie there trying to remind myself to be happy, I was a blushing bride and I was so lucky to have found such a wonderful man willing to marry and take care such a dirty broken piece of crap. 

The next morning we set out for our ” honeymoon” We drove through Arizona, New Mexico to Texas. We stopped in Texas at the home ofcousin of ” friend”.  She had a lovely home full of family photos of her and her husband and children,vacation pictures, dance recitals. Two dogs and fridge full of food! I remember looking around realizing I would never have this kind of life, a nice home and fridge full of food, a loving husband and happy children to make memories with.We stayed there one night, she was kind to me and her and her husband took us out to dinner. We went from Texas to New Orleans. In Louisiana one of the tires went out and we had to stop and get it fixed. By this time my resolve we greatly wearing, I did want to go through with this anymore. I wanted to run! 

I had never met my biological father or any of his family. I did however know his name and that they were all from Louisiana. Every stop we made, I scoured the phone books looking for him or any of his kin, hoping that I could escape to them. After failing to locate any I begin to think that maybe I could just walk off, go it a bathroom and climb out a window. I could go to a church and pretend I had amnesia and didn’t know who I was and start over. 

Eventually we made it to New Orleans, we toured the city, “friend” reminisced about his time living there and being a “hippy”. Every night from Texas to Misssippi I cried and begged him to just take me back home, he refused and said we had come this far and I was his. He pointed out that I no longer had a home. My mother had signed over power of attorney to him, she didn’t want me. I was his property to do what he wanted with.

 Soon we made it to Mississippi, found a campground to park the RV. We applied for our marriage license, got tested for STDs and one Friday in May 2015 we went into a beautified old court house in Jackson Mississippi and “friend” asked a judge to marry us. The judge laughed and said “I’ll Marry her, but I don’t want to marry you”.  He preformed the ceremony, I stood there feeling like I was just given a sentence of punishment. 

I remember going back and forth between never wanting anything to do with my mother ever again, to realizing that would be next to impossible since I would be living just a few doors down from her.  We were married Mothers day weekend. I called my mother from a pay phone to wish her a happy Mother’s Day and let her know it was done, I was “married”. She was cold and said she wished me the best with ” my choice”.

We drove back to our new life as newly weds to California, stopping for the evenings which consisted of drunken, dirty sex and my crying myself to sleep. My husband would tell me I needed to grow a thick skin, sometimes life doesn’t turn out how we want to. 

For years I thought I was the only one this had ever happened too, I knew families immigrated from other countries and brought old customs such as child marriage and arranged marriages. 

One day I read a piece on the New York Times by Fraidy Reiss founder of the non profit advocacy group Unchained at Last. She wrote about her personal experience of being forced and then trapped in an abusve marriage. She founded unchained at last to help other women leave arranged/forced marriages. I contacted her and tried to link up for support. This is the first time with the exception of the Warren Jeffs cult that I had ever heard of anyone who had experienced anything similar to what I had gone through. 

A few months later I read another article about the state of Virgina enacting tighter restrictions on child marriage. The artical talked about the problem of immigrants arranging/forcing their children into marriages, but also talked about the problem of children being married to their sexual predators in order to avoid criminal prosecution. WOW! This is happening today, 20 years later, all across the county! I am not the only one! 

Everyday in the United States children are forced, threatened and coerced into marriges often with much older spouses. These circumstances should be resulting in criminal charges not marriage licenses. 

I will go into detail in my next post on here we currently stand on these legal issues in my next post. 

Thank you fort taking the time to read this post, please comment, share, discuss! 


Published by Genevieve Meyer

Genevieve Meyer always felt like a throwaway​ child - a lost cause that no one wanted to invest anything into. "When I was married off at 15 that feeling was solidified. People knew it was going to happen. I even asked for help - a place to live, someone to intervene - but no one rescued me. I was just a 'poor white trash girl' with a difficult, mentally-ill mother and no one gave my being married off to a 42-year-old man a second thought." Child marriage is currently legal in all but one state in the U.S. The repercussions of this reality are real - domestic violence, inability to complete education, lack of job skills - all leading to being trapped in the marriage. Meyer has lived in the Fort Wayne area for 14 years. She recently earned her MBA, following completion of an undergraduate degree at Purdue Fort Wayne. She manages a mental health facility in Fort Wayne which helps children and their families heal from trauma. Driven by her own story of trauma, she works to advocate and educate about the harmful effects of child marriage. She lives in the country with her husband of 12 years, and together they are raising 4 children and several animals.

6 thoughts on “Start Somewhere 

  1. It makes me sad to hear of these things happening to you, but I am all the more proud of the woman I know today. Thank you for sharing your story in the hopes that it may be helpful to others.

  2. Incredibly brave, resilient and strong are the words that come to mind after reading this. Sending you much love.

  3. You are so strong Genevieve to have made it out of that place to where you are today, all on your own! I hope your story and motivation will reach others’, and make a difference somehow. It’s so sad that rape and forced marriages are overlooked. It’s a shame that people arent speaking up, and that the “system” is such a failure. Thank you for sharing!

  4. You are very brave to share your life story with the world. I hope it helps you and others that are going or have gone through what you have.

  5. I am in tears. You are a brave and amazing woman. It is a privilege to be getting to know you after all these years.

  6. It is amazing how time confuses memory’s. Sorry you have the facts of life so screwed up in your head. Good luck getting the sympathy you are seeking.

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